April 2004

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Gordon NewmanEMAIL INTERVIEW - Gordon Newman & Ken Sinclair  

Gordon Newman is the Marketing Coordinator for Greystone Energy Systems Inc.

He can be contacted at newman.g@greystoneenergy.com for any questions or comments.   


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Relationship marketing in today's HVAC industry

Sinclair:  Generally speaking, could you give me a definition of "Relationship Marketing", and what types of businesses benefit from this approach?

Newman:  Essentially, Relationship marketing is developing a close bond with your customer by dealing with them on a personal level where you, ideally, have a connection that is strong and based on consistent values. Basically, any successful business will implement some form of this strategy. Everything from your local car dealership who will deal with you on a one-on-one basis to clothing stores that use the same principle. These are all companies that are trying to connect with an individual.

Sinclair:  Provide me with an overview of how this form of marketing is implemented and what are some keys to success?

Newman:  One major principle that applies when dealing with relationships in your everyday life applies in Relationship Marketing within a business. This is the idea of effective communication. Much like on a personal level, if your communication is lacking then it likely won't take long for the relationship to break down. Furthermore, it's not enough to listen to concerns. Appropriate action will ultimately determine how strong the bond with your customers will become. So communication is the first step, followed closely by addressing concerns and following up to ensure that both parties are satisfied. It's not just enough to state "I'm listening to your concerns" and then provide no follow up. A better approach is "I hear your concerns… Now here is what we're going to do about it". An important note here is that you're not always going to be able to satisfy your customer's needs fully. However, if you have that relationship and you are open and honest, a good customer will stand by you. An easy way to lose a customer's trust is not being honest at the outset.

Sinclair:  How important is this concept in the HVAC peripheral manufacturing industry?

Newman:  It is one of the keys to success in surviving in this industry. This is obvious when you take into consideration the nature of these products. On a daily basis a customer will come to us here at Greystone with a new or unique application. Some of these applications are very easily addressed and others will take a bit longer complete. Therefore, our ability to effectively communicate with the customer is paramount.

Sinclair:  As a Marketing Coordinator, how do you incorporate Relationship Marketing into your overall Marketing Strategy?

Control Solutions, Inc Newman:  There are a number of ways to take this approach when implementing a Marketing Strategy. First of all, you have to look at your assets. When you have a strong sales staff, then you want to take every step possible to try to get customers and potential customers in conversation with that department. The challenge as a marketing coordinator is get those customers knocking at your door. One way in which we try to keep in touch with our customers is through newsletters. Much like AutomatedBuildings.com, we distribute a monthly issue. We have taken a "value added" approach where we try to give customers information that doesn't necessarily pertain exclusively to our products, but maybe a unique application or an emerging trend in the industry. Then, we offer them our product towards the end and a "quote button" that allows them to receive quotes in a short amount of time. This is a much more effective strategy than just throwing specifications at them.

Sinclair:  Are there any other benefits (other than customer loyalty) of taking this relationship approach?

Newman:  There are a number of other benefits to using this approach. Positive word-of-mouth and Market Research are two things that immediately come to mind. First of all, word-of-mouth is a bit of a double-edged sword. It really gives you free promotion if done right. If you have a positive relationship with a customer who has some influence in the industry, then you'll likely hear from somebody who was talking to that customer. Market research is another valuable by-product of a solid relationship. Marketing research can sometimes prove to be a costly expenditure. One valuable source of information within the marketplace is your customers. When customers provide feedback, this is information to be taken seriously as they are on the front lines of the industry. They often see or hear first hand information of emerging trends. Some of these trends can ultimately determine the long-term success of your company.

Sinclair:  Thank you for your time Gordon.

Newman:  Thank you Ken and continued success with AutomatedBuildings.com.

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